|Father Of Our Faith And Faith Of Our Father|
|Faith Personified||100||Does Faith Face The Facts?||106|
|Faith Which Separates||101||Faith Is The Way Of Humility||107|
|Faith Is Separation From Complacency||102||The Possibilities Of Faith!||108|
|Father Of Our Faith||103||Faith Is The Way Of Optimism!||109|
|Faith Of Our Father||104||Discussion Questions||110|
|The Way Of Works Verses The Way Of Faith||105||Discussion Questions (continued)||111|
Faith is the great theme of the Book of Romans. Paul uses various approaches to prove his thesis that a man is put into a right relationship with God by faith–not by the works of the Law.
Instead of speaking about Faith abstractly, Paul points to faith in action, faith embodied in a person. Abraham is called the father of faith, because Abraham embodied faith.
Because of the majority of the Jewish Rabbis were so greatly in love with their theory of works, most misinterpreted the story of Abraham, and claimed that Abraham was chosen by God because of his works. However, Paul argues instead that Abraham was not chosen by God to be the father of the nation of Israel and the one who was declared righteous before God, because of good works, but because of obedient faith. Hebrews 11:8 further confirms this conclusion and defines faith as a faithful and obedient response to God's call to action. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8 NIV)
What puts one into a right relationship with God? Faith in God and in Christ. Faith has been defined in a variety of ways: (1) Taking God at His word; (2) Trust in the trustworthiness of God's character; (3) Obeying God's commands without arguing or hesitating; (4) Complete trust in God; (5) Willing abandonment of one's life to God; (6) Commitment of one's will to do God's will; (7) Belief that God's promises are true, and casting oneself upon those reliable promises; (8) Acceptance in simple trust of the love which God offers to man. All of these descriptions of faith find concrete expression in the life of Abraham.
The Jews mistakenly believed a man was justified before God by keeping the Old Testament Law and by the rite of Circumcision. But Paul makes it clear that Abraham was justified by faith long before the Law was given to Moses. Further, Paul notes that Abraham did not even receive the circumcision rite until fourteen years after he had answered God's call and entered into the unique relationship with God. (Genesis 15:5, Genesis 17:10)
Therefore, the Law of Circumcision had nothing to do with putting Abraham into a right standing with God. It was faith–not the Law or circumcision–which justified Abraham before God. Faith personified is seen in Abraham. Faith obeys without debate, waits without despair, and separates without escaping reality. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3)
"God, help me to exercise true faith, the kind of faith which Abraham exercised. Help me faithfully and obediently to respond to Your call to action in my life. Help me to be a living embodiment of faith , In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Saving faith is obedient faith. I will take God at His word today, and step out in faith to do His will.
Faith Which Separates
"Now the Lord has said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee." (Genesis 12:1) Whatever Abraham's personal relationship with the true God was in his youth, in the midst of this prosperous, pagan culture, God called Abraham to leave his country and kindred and follow Him.
Many persons, like Abraham, have doubtless been criticized for leaving their home and country to obey a divine call. "There were two boys in the Taylor family. The older said he must make a name for the family, and so turned his face toward Parliament and fame. The younger decided to give his life to the service of Christ and so turned his face toward China and duty. Hudson Taylor, the missionary died, beloved and known on every continent. 'But when I looked in the Encyclopedia to see what the other son had done', said one, 'I found these words, "The brother of Hudson Talyor"'." (Shoe-Leather Faith, Merv Rosell, No. 35)
The faith which separates always separates for a purpose–a redemptive purpose. The 'holy' man is the separated man–separated to perform a great task for God and for man. David Livingstone was such a man. He obeyed God's call to go to Africa where he established a number of missions over a period of several decades. Livingstone, like Abraham, was separated from his home and country, but his separation was for the purpose of service to God and to man.
Abraham's separation from his home and country gave opportunity for his faith to develop and to become strong. When earthly 'props' are taken away, there is even a greater need to depend upon divine 'supports'.
Sometimes faith means separation from one's employment or job to become involved in 'full-time Christian service'. My aunt and uncle lived on a farm and they greatly enjoyed this kind of life. However, God called my aunt to go into the pastoral and evangelistic ministry. At first she resisted, thinking that her husband would not be willing to leave their farm. God continued to call her however, and finally she and her husband together decided to leave their farm and go into active ministry. That decision was made years ago. After spending many fruitful years in the work that God had called them to, they retired and are today filled with joy that they obeyed their Lord by separating themselves from their former way of life on the farm.
When God called Abraham to leave his home and country, He made a promise to Abraham: "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing". (Genesis 12:2)
"Father, thou art faithful to me. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Help me in turn to be faithful in obeying Your call on life, even if obedience to that call means a change of direction in my life!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Faith separates me from sin and selfishness, in order to separate me to sincerity and service.
Hebrews 11:8-12, Hebrews 11:17-19
Faith Is Separation From Complacency
God chose Abraham in order that He might have a human instrument through who He could prepare the world for the coming of His Son. In the chaos of darkness and ignorance, God intervened in human history to choose a man through whom He might begin to unfold His plan of redemption and reconciliation of mankind.
Israel, the descendant people of Abraham, was especially chosen as the bearers and the conveyors of God's message to the world, which was culminated in Jesus Christ. In reality, all the peoples of the earth are blessed in Abraham, for Christ came from Abraham, and through Christ all mankind is provided salvation. Abraham was chosen for this purpose, that through one of his descendants, the Son of God could come upon the stage of human history in a human form, to bless all the world through His compassionate life, redemptive death, and victorious resurrection.
If Abraham would have been complacent to God's call, we would never have heard of Abraham. God may have chosen another man, but the purposes of God through Abraham would have been frustrated. Complacency is most costly. It can result in adversely affecting many future generations. "One tremendous instance of that happened in 1271. Nicolo and Maffeo Polo were at the court of Kublai Khan, whose empire stretched from the Urals to the Himalayas, and from the Danube to the China Sea, and Kublai Khan said, I want you to go back to the Pope and I want you to ask him to send a hundred missionaries, and I'll become a Christian and all my great men will become Christians, and all my country will become Christians, and you will have more Christians in the east here than ever in the west'. So they went back and they asked the Pope, but the Pope was too busy playing politics. For eighteen years nothing was done and then a few missionaries were sent, just a handful; too late and too few. Now think what might have happened if that chance had been taken. China would have been Christian; Japan would have been Christian; the Middle East would have been Christian; Turkey would have been Christian; even India would have been Christian–the face of the world would have been changed. But the Church refused the chance." (The Life of Jesus For Everyman, William Barclay, p. 94-95)
It was not easy for Abraham to obey when he could not see immediate results. Abraham left his home and went into an unknown future. Between God's first promise to Abraham and its fulfillment in the birth of Isaac, there was an elapse of more than twenty years! Then after Isaac was born, Abraham experienced his severest test when he was told by God to sacrifice his only son. But, while obedience may not be easy, its rewards are great!
"God, help me to walk boldly into the future with you. Take away my fear of the unknown. Help me to realize that what you promise, you always fulfill–in your own time and way!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Whatever I sow, I will reap. If I sow complacency, I will reap destruction. If I sow faith, I will reap a mighty harvest of fruitfulness–for myself and for future generations!
Father Of Our Faith
George Washington is considered the Father of the United States. He was the great Commanding General during the Revolutionary War, and later he became the first President of the United States. When we think of Washington, we think of everything America stands for–freedom, democracy, patriotism, human dignity, deep piety. George Washington was not the only one in the early days of America who stood for these great qualities, but he is the one man who best personifies and demonstrates the spirit of Americanism.
George Washington was early called the "Father of his Country". He helped shape the beginning to the United States. He was so deeply admired in early America, that his army officers would have made him king if he had let them. Said Thomas Jefferson about Washington, "His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good and a great man".
Abraham is considered the Father of Faith. "The central declaration (of Romans 4) is that Abraham is the father of all who believe. He is the father, the pattern, the leading example, the archetype, the first in a great succession. To put it in another way, it is in the case of Abraham that God defines righteousness and establishes and declares explicitly the principle on which anyone is made righteous. We must not think that Abraham was the first man to be justified; that would be patently wrong. People like Abel and Enoch and Noah and others were equally justified in the sight of God, but it is in the case of Abraham that God makes plain and clear and explicit the way in which He justifies men." (Romans, Atonement and Justification, Lloyd-Jones, p. 185)
So, just as George Washington is the personification of Americanism, Abraham in a similar way, is the personification of Faith. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Abraham was declared righteous, not on the basis of his own merit or goodness, but on the basis of obedience to God's call. The faith which justified Abraham was the faith which separated Abraham from his homeland, from his kinsfolks, from his pagan worship. Abraham's faith was a faith which separated him from the negative influences and which separated him to the positive pathway of obedience. It is not by works of the law, but by the simple response of faith as shown in the life of Abraham that justifies a man in God's sight. Romans 4 contrasts the way of faith with the way of works, and declares Faith as the only pathway to God. The example of Abraham is the example for every man to follow.
"O Father, how can I get into a right relationship with you? How can my terrible estrangement be taken away? How can I find peace and forgiveness? 'Not the labours of my hands can fulfill thy law's demands.' Is there any way to be put right? Now I see! Only one way! The way of Faith!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My biggest problem–sin–is adequately met by God's greatest solution–salvation–and is found by life's simplest method–faith!
Faith Of Our Father
The first half of Romans 4 speaks of the 'Father of our Faith', and the last half of Romans 4 speaks of the 'Faith of our Father'. Romans 4 contrasts the way of faith with the way of works, and shows that one can be justified in God's sight by Faith only. Because Faith in contrast to Works is a major theme of the book of Romans, we must spend some time on this theme.
In the 'Way of Works', man seeks to acquire merit in the sight of God through doing works which the law prescribes. This method depends on human effort. In the 'Way of Faith', man accepts the free gift of God's love which is forgiveness and peace, without any attempt to merit that gift. This method depends on divine grace. "It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith." (Romans 4:13) "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (Romans 5:1-2)
In attempting to achieve God's favor through human effort, there is always uncertainty as to how close one is coming in attaining the desired goal. One tends to think, "Perhaps a little more effort and work will gain God's favor and put me in good standing with God". Such attitudes of the mind and Labors of the hand, Lead to stress, strain, anxiety and misery. Simply recall Martin Luther's agony of soul when he tried to earn God's favor by religious labors and performance. However, in contrast to the 'Way of Works', the 'Way of Faith' is simply the acceptance of God's free forgiveness and loving favor (grace), and is not based upon human performance and achievement. It has nothing to do with seeking to appease an angry God or seeking to outbalance one's bad works with good works. The way of faith leads to quiet confidence and rest in God.
The way of works is the way of law. The more one focuses upon works, the more one focuses upon law. The law then becomes the focus of attention and the standard for harsh judgement. Fear becomes the motivation for behavior. Performance of good works to avoid God's judgement becomes the goal of life. However, the way of faith is the way of grace. The more one focuses upon faith, the more one focuses upon grace. God's love then becomes the focus or attention and the standard for merciful evaluation. Love becomes the motivation for behavior. Performance of good deeds to express love to God and love for man becomes the goal of life.
"For too long, O God, I have tried to gain your favor through human merit. I have tried to outbalance my bad works with good works. It has all led to uncertainty and restlessness. I come to thee now with an empty heart and with open hands. I receive your grace in simple faith!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The labors of my hands shall henceforth be, not to work for God's love, but to love God's works!
The Way Of Works Verses The Way Of Faith
The 'Way of Works' is weak; the 'Way of Faith' is strong. What the law forbids, the sinful heart desires, resulting in condemnation. "It is human nature that when a thing is forbidden it has a tendency to become desirable. 'Stolen fruits are sweetest.' Law, therefore, can actually move a man to desire the very thing which it forbids. The essential complement of law is judgement, and so long as a man lives in a religion whose dominant thought is law, he cannot see himself as anything other than a condemned criminal at the bar of God's justice." (Daily Study Bible, Romans, William Barclay, p. 69) "For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression." (Romans 4:14-15) The way of works is based on human obedience to law, with the tragic consequence of a long series of transgressions waiting to be punished. The man who is law-oriented seeks to resolve guilt by compensation of accumulated good works.
The way of faith is the only way to God. What love commands, grace provides, resulting in loving fellowship. As long as the human heart is unconverted, the holy law of God is impossible to keep. However, when God's grace and power changes human nature, the converted human nature becomes compatible to the holy commands of Divine Love. What Divine Love commands, converted human nature demands. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Therefore, result is divine-human reconciliation and warm loving relationship and fellowship. The law magnifies sin and condemns the sinner. Grace forgives sin and receives the sinner. The law condemns the sinner in his sin. Grace changes a sinner into a saint. The way of works leads to judgement and wrath. The way of faith leads to forgiveness and peace. The way of faith is based on human submission to divine love, with the result of repentant adjustments to God's revealed will in the unfolding love relationship. The man who is grace-oriented resolves guilt by resort to confession and faith in Christ's atoning blood.
The way of law and works was futile, even for those who carefully adhered to the prescriptions of the Mosaic system of sacrifice and atonement. (Hebrews 10:1-4) However, the way of faith and grace is the workable, all-inclusive and universal way, for God's provision of forgiveness has been made for the entire human race. (Romans 4:16) The way of faith is open to us all, for the atonement of Christ was all-inclusive and final. (Hebrews 10:11-12) The way of the law, under which the Jews lived, was the way of narrow exclusiveness. The system of law, which was misapplied by the Jews, led to pride, judgementalism, and aloofness.
"O God, the more I attempt to justify myself by law, the more condemned I feel! The law is perfect, but I am polluted; therefore, I can't keep the law. What the law forbids, my corrupt human nature desires. Is there no hope for me? None, if my human nature can't be changed! But, thanks to God's power, I can be changed! I can be converted! I can be cleansed! All through faith in Christ!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What God commands, my God-created nature demands, and Christ's grace supplies! Glory!
Does Faith Face The Facts?
The 'Way of Works' believes the possible is confined to the visible and the reasonable, accomplished by human effort, genius, and power.
The 'Way of Faith' believes the seemingly impossible and unreasonable is possible because of the power of a miracle-performing God. Romans 4:17 tells us that Abraham believed God's promise of descendants, in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. "As it is written, 'I have made you a father of many nations'. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be'. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb also was dead." (Romans 4:17-19)
In 'The Way of Works', confidence and assurance is based on the ability of man's performance and the trustworthiness of material circumstances. In the 'Way of Faith', confidence and assurance is based on the reliability of God's promises. In spite of the contradiction of human circumstances, and the seemingly impossible content of God's promises, Abraham was "fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised". (Romans 4:21)
In the 'Way of Works', the claim to realism is unfounded, for only part of reality–the material–is accepted.
In the 'Way of Faith', the claim to realism is solidly founded, for all of reality–both the material and the spiritual–is accepted. "That brings out the vital element in faith, that it is not something that refuses to face facts. There are some people who think of faith in that way, and the result is that the man of the world says, 'What you Christians call faith I call escapism'. That is what the clever men of the world say about Christians. They say that Christian people are not realists, that they meet together in their buildings and will pull down the blinds and shut out the world and its problems, and then persuade themselves of certain things. They say it is all wishful thinking and escapism, that such people do not face the facts of life, but run away from them. One man reads a novel, these others believe the Christian message, they say, but it is all escapism. Here we have the answer to that; Abraham faced the facts, he reminded himself of his own age, as the Apostle tells us here; and also of Sarah's age. He looked at the facts as they were, at their very worst; and yet, though he did that, he was not at all weakened in his faith… he looked at Someone else. The trouble with unbelief is that it only looks at the difficulties." (Romans 4, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p. 216-217)
"O God, I want to be a 'realist'. I cannot escape the hard facts of life! But to face all of life realistically, I now see that I must look at the spiritual as well as the material, I must look at the invisible support of the divine as well as the visible supports of the human, I must consider the limitless possibilities of divine power as well as the human limitations of human weakness. Now I see! The man of faith is the true 'realist'. He sees reality through God's eyes!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Through my faith, my human problems will become divine projects, and God has never yet failed in His projects!
Faith Is The Way Of Humility
The way of works inevitably leads to pride and boasting. "For by grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) The way of works depends upon man's performance and achievement; therefore all glory is ascribed to man alone. "Glory to man in the highest" are the words of the boasting heart, which has made human performance the object of praise.
The way of faith and grace depends upon God's working; therefore all glory is ascribed to God alone. "What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) "Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God." (Romans 4:20) Anyone, like Abraham, who believes the seemingly impossible promises of God, a person who affirms the power and majesty of God, and thus, such a person glorifies God–that is, gives glory to God. "Glory to God in the highest" are the words of the humble heart, which has made the mighty works of God the object of praise.
The work-oriented man is the man who bases his faith in human performance, hence pride and boasting. The grace-oriented man is the man who bases his faith in the all-powerful, all-loving God, hence humility. He submits in humility to God's power and God's performance.
In the 'Way of Works', hope is based on what man can do for God. Hence, man's work is the focus of attention, which leads to pride and boasting. In the 'Way of Faith', hope is based on what God can do for man. Hence, God's power and love is the focus of attention, which leads to humility and worship of God.
In the 'Way of Works', rewards are based on man's calculations of earned achievements. The works-oriented person seeks to make God his debtor. In the 'Way of Faith', rewards are based on God's gifts of unearned and undeserved favor. The grace-oriented person recognizes that he is an eternal debtor to God.
The works-oriented person demands justice, and receives justice. Such an individual is spiritually-blinded, not realizing the consequences of his request for justice, which is divine wrath, judgement, and retribution. The grace-oriented person begs for mercy and receives mercy. Such an individual realizes that he comes short of the glory of God and falls short of the perfect standards of holiness. He finds mercy, forgiveness, justification.
"O God, my request shall be mercy, not justice. My motivation for labor shall be love, not fear. My accomplishments shall be God-given, not humanly achieved. My boasting shall be in God's perfect glory, not in man's passing glory. My rewards shall be humbly received, not pridefully demanded. I shall take the way of faith, not the way of works!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The way of justice is the way of harsh judgement; the way of mercy is the way of lavish love. I choose mercy!
Galatians 2:15-21, Galatians 3:21-25
The Possibilities Of Faith!
We noted yesterday that the 'Way of Works' leads inevitably to pride, while the 'Way of Faith' always leads to humility. In the spirit of pride, the self-sufficient soul unsuccessfully seeks to obtain righteousness by accumulating meritorious works. In the spirit of humility, the self-effacing soul successfully attains righteousness by simply taking God at His word.
In the 'Way of Works', justification is based upon accomplishments of human feats. The man who is spiritually blinded thinks that the works of the flesh can please God and put him in right standing with God! There are those yet who mistakenly think that certain things will save them, such as morality, religion, baptism, church membership, culture, natural birth, charitable deeds or mere sincerity. Declares the Bible: "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6) The works-oriented person seeks subjectively to create his own reconciliation with God, earned by human performance and achievement.
In the 'Way of Faith', justification is based upon faith in God's greatest feat of power–the resurrection of Jesus. "This is why 'it was credited to him as righteousness'. The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Romans 4:22-25) It is not faith in man's works, but faith in God's work on the cross that justifies a sinner in God's Sight. The sinner's hope must be built on 'nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness'. The grace-oriented person accepts God's reconciliation which was objectively made possible by God's grace-initiative, in the cross, independent of man's moral efforts or failures.
The works-oriented man has a pessimistic outcome, for human experience has taught man the grim lesson that his own efforts can achieve very little. Despair, cynicism, defeat, and moral impotence are the final consequences of human effort independent of God's enabling power. The final outcome is eternal separation from God.
The grace-oriented man has an optimistic outcome, for "with God nothing is impossible". Think of Abraham again. What was humanly impossible, became possible by God's grace and power.
"O God, my good works are not good enough to save me. But the good work of Christ on the cross is altogether sufficient to save me to the uttermost! Reconciliation is the divine, objective accomplishment, ready to become a human subjective experience through faith in the resurrected Christ!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God does not wait to be reconciled to me. He waits for me to be reconciled to Him! I don't earn His favor, I simply accept His favor!
Galatians 3:26-29, Galatians 4:1-7
Faith Is The Way Of Optimism!
The 'Way of Works' leads to a pessimistic outcome. The 'Way of Faith' leads to an optimistic outcome. Faith translates aspirations into realizations, translates the ordinary into the extraordinary, translates the impossible into the impossible, translates the vision into the reality. The great 'Faith Chapter'–Hebrews 11–demonstrates this. The feats of faith are amazing! The common human vessel is changed into the channel of God's powerful performances. God specializes in things which others think 'impossible'. The deadness of Sarah's womb becomes the receptacle of God's fulfilled promises. The object of faith determines the value of faith. Faith centered in a miracle-performing God is faith rightly centered! He is the "God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were". (Romans 4:17)
Faith elevates all of life to a plane of exciting possibilities. To see life through the eyes of faith is to see life as a 'field brimming with countless opportunities'. The man of faith sees problems as projects, and he sees stumbling blocks as stepping stones. He who walks with God (as Abraham did) dare not put a ceiling upon the possibilities of grace!
"The essence of Abraham's faith in this case was that he believed that God could make the impossible possible. So long as we believe that everything depends on our efforts, we are bound to be pessimists, for experience has taught the grim lesson that our own efforts can achieve very little. When we realize that it is not our effort, but God's grace and power which matter, then we become optimists, because we are bound to believe that with God nothing is impossible. It is told that once Saint Theresa set out to build a convent with a sum the equivalent of twelve pence as her complete resources. Someone said to her, "Not even Saint Theresa can accomplish much with twelve pence"; "True", she answered, "but Saint Theresa and twelve pence and God can do anything". A man may well hesitate to attempt a great task by himself; there is nothing which he need hesitate to attempt with God. Ann Hunter Small, the great missionary teacher, had a favorite saying: "A church which is alive dares to do anything". That daring only becomes possible to a man and to a church who take God at His word," (Daily Study Bible, Romans, William Barclay, p. 71)
The possibilities of grace are limitless. Through faith, man can become a 'son of God', and can become 'united with Christ', and can become an heir to the promises of God! (Galatians 3:26-29) He who takes the way of faith is taking the way of Abraham, and think of what God gave to Abraham by faith!
"O God, elevate my life to a new plane of exciting possibilities. Help me to raise my sights to see my potential in Christ. Give me and my fellow seekers 'the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead'. Give us 'the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen"." (Hebrews 11:1, Living Bible)
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am a 'realistic optimist', for the vision which God gives to me is the same vision which God, through faith, will realize in me!'
Discussion Questions On 'Father Of Our Faith And Faith Of Our Father'
Is Faith an attitude or an action or both? Give Scriptures to document your answer. How would you define Faith? (Note the eight different ways that 'Faith' is described or defined in the chapter.)
How did the Jews mistakenly believe a person was justified before God? Using the example of Abraham, how did the Apostle Paul refute the Jewish view of 'Justification'.
Considering 'Faith in Action' in the life of Abraham, how do you interpret the following statement: "Faith obeys without debate, waits without despair, and separates without escaping reality".
Can you cite examples from your own life or from the lives of people you have known, to illustrate the truth of the statement: "Faith results in separating one from his former way of life or from his former employment or from his home and country or from something else that was formerly dear, to his heart".
How did Abraham's obedience to God (to leave his country and kindred, and follow where God would lead) result in bringing a blessing upon all of mankind?
Illustrate from the life of Abraham, the truth of the following statement: "While obedience may not be easy, its rewards are always great!"
In what ways did Abraham personify faith?
Name as many contrasts you can between the 'Way of Faith' (Grace) and the 'Way of Works' (Law).
What is meant by the following statement: "What God commands, my God-created nature demands and Christ's grace supplies!"
Is taking the 'Way of Faith' compatible with facing reality and the facts of life or does taking the 'Way of Faith' result in escaping from reality? (Note Romans 4:17-19) (Do you agree with the following statement: "The man of faith is the true 'realist'. He sees reality through God's eyes!")
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The work-oriented man is the man who bases his faith in human performance, hence pride and boasting. The grace-oriented man is the man who bases his faith in the all-powerful, all-loving God, hence humility".
What are some of the things which the 'Works-oriented' person resorts to, in an attempt to earn his salvation? What is the answer of the Bible (in Isaiah 64:6, Ephesians 2:8-9) for such an attempt?
What must a person do in order for God to declare him as 'righteous'? (Romans 4:22-25) Do you agree with the following statement: ''It is not faith in man's works, but faith in God's work on the cross that justifies a sinner in God's sight".
Discussion Questions On 'Father Of Our Faith And Faith Of Our Father' (continued)
Give examples from Hebrews 11 (the great 'Faith Chapter') that illustrate the truth of the following statement: "Faith translates aspirations into realizations, translates the ordinary into the extraordinary, translates the impossible into the impossible, translates the vision into the reality".
Why does the 'Way of Works' lead to a pessimistic outcome and the 'Way of Faith' lead to an optimistic outcome?